Thinking Off the Grid? Best Farm Animals for Self Sufficiency

best farm animals for self sufficiency
To date, we aren't completely self-sufficient. We still do a grocery store run once a week and pipe in cable and internet to stay connected with the world. We haven't mastered the delicate ins and outs of our appliances or of our solar generation and water systems, so we still require the help of an electrician and plumber now and then. We have goals, but simply haven't reached them yet. It may never be that our life on the homestead is completely separated from the world, and maybe that's OK. We do what makes us happy and keeps our family healthy. For now, that's where we are at. What we can do is grow and harvest what we are able, and that means knowing as much as possible about the best farm animals for self sufficiency so we don't over-complicate our lives and reduce our carbon footprint on the planet. The more we grow and raise for our own use means the less energy is used to bring it to our front door step.

Best Farm Animals for Self Sufficiency

best farm animals for self sufficiency
The best farm animals for self sufficiency are always going to be the ones that you know how to raise and harvest yourself, whether it is for meat or products such as hair fiber, eggs and honey. Our philosophy has always been to learn to manage and raise one type of livestock at a time and for us that means we use chickens for eggs and meat. This Spring brings in the bee colonies and later on, goats for milk. Pigs at this time are not on our radar for the homestead, simply because a family member runs his own operation just down the road and it's simpler for us to have him raise them for us.

The point is, a homesteader must know their livestock to bring it successfully to harvest. These will always be the best farm animals for self sufficiency. If you are just starting out, a simple recommendation would be to raise a small flock of chickens. Choose a breed such as New Hampshire Reds and watch the eggs roll in. Once you have that figured out, try an increase by bringing in a flock of 20 or so meat birds. Feed and water them for a few months before paying someone to harvest and process them for you. It is much cheaper this way and supports your neighborhood economy.

Best Farm Animals for Beginners

best farm animals for beginners
An intimate understanding of the land is essential for a new homesteading success. For example, if the plan was to paddock and graze a particular area in the Spring, but you didn't realize that snow melt made that pasture a wetland, you're going to need another solution. As you learn your property, start small with your livestock choices. In our opinion, the best farm animals for beginners are the ones that balance cost with a simple learning curve. Of course chickens work in this option, but so do rabbits. Bees have a smaller learning curve than goats, and pigs raised for meat only need a fraction of pasture in comparison to a dairy cow. With any animal you decide to start with, find a mentor to help if possible and learn as much as you can before making an investment.

Self Sustainable Living Ideas

self sustainable living ideas
Some of the best self sustainable living ideas come from simplicity itself. A garden is a great start and is a constant learning opportunity. As the seasons and years change, so does the growing environment and the nutritional needs of your family. One year might see the purchase of starter plants from your nursery while the next sees a new seedling greenhouse in your side yard and your beginning to save heritage seeds. You may start milking goats one year then start creating your own line of income-supporting soaps and lotions the next from your excess. Like anything being folded into your off grid or homestead life, the best ideas are the ones that incorporate neatly into your lifestyle. Be creative and be open to new possibilities.

Cheapest Animal to Raise for Meat

cheapest animal to raise for meatAside from hard-core aquaculture or sowing a field of soy beans, adding protein to your family's diet will mainly come from your livestock. When looking at the economics of the process, the best choices are found when factoring the cost to raise and harvest. Beef cows are expensive and for a homesteader best purchased as a side or quarter through a CSA. For protein you raise yourself, the cheapest animal to raise for meat and the one most simple to maintain is a meat chicken. Choose a breed like the Orpington or Leghorn for colder climates like we have in New Hampshire. For warmer climates, check with your grain and feed store for popular strains.

By far chickens are the cheapest animal to raise for meat. The equipment used is minimal, the growth term is relatively short at around three months, the supplemental feed is relatively inexpensive and the harvest goes quickly. All you need is fresh water, grain, a coop or chicken tractor and a deep freezer to store the harvested birds. You can certainly process your own chickens, but when you add up the processing costs of doing it yourself it is often best to save time and money by having a local butcher do it for you.

How to Start a Self Sufficient Farm

how to start a self sufficient farm
Knowing how to start a self sufficient farm is part and parcel of knowing your own abilities. There is a learning curve, and for us it took roughly five years of research and advice to reach the point we are at now. Our best advice was always gained through speaking with other homesteaders, though the online resources found on YouTube did a fair share of educating us as well. The point is, no two homesteads are the same with so many choices of varying livestock, garden placement and off grid potential.

How to start a self sufficient farm begins with deducing that this is the life you want to lead and then bringing your family along for the ride. You will see your health improve, your tastebuds explode from all of the fresh food and your outlook on life improve dramatically. Homesteading is about finding the happiness within and raising the next generation to do the same.

We love sharing our experiences with you and would immensely enjoy hearing all of your perspectives on how to start a self sufficient farm, the best farm animals for beginners, the cheapest animals to raise for meat, self sustainable living ideas and the best farm animals for self sufficiency. Please add to the conversation by using the comments section below.